How Cristina Ehm’s Fashion Blog Earns $17k+ Per Month Through SEO and Pinterest
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Cristina Ehm Has always had a passion for fashion. She studied it, she worked in the industry, and when she felt a little bit burned out, she decided to change things up a bit by designing and selling t-shirts.
She created a blog to promote her products called ShoeTease, but not long after, her blog started to exceed her t-shirt sales.
Today, per month, her site gets around half a million page views and she's earning $14k+ on average from ads alone, and $17k+ from all of her income streams.
Keep reading to find out:
- How she got started in fashion
- What kind of t-shirts she was selling
- How she started blogging
- What business she started and then abandoned
- What her plans are for growing her business
- Where her income comes from
- Her strategies for marketing her blog
- Her thoughts on SEO
- Her approach to keyword research
- Her link building and internal linking strategies
- How she creates content
- How she's growing her email list
- Her favorite resources and tools
- Her main challenge
- Her greatest accomplishment
- Her biggest mistake
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
- Meet Cristina Ehm
- Why She Created Her Site
- How Much She’s Earning
- Her Main Marketing Strategy
- The Importance of SEO
- Cristina’s Content Creation Process
- Her Email List
- Her Favorite Resources
- Cristina’s Go-To Tools
- Her Main Challenge
- Her Greatest Accomplishment
- What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
- Her Biggest Mistake
- Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Meet Cristina Ehm
I’m a designer, stylist, and mom based in Canada. I have over 20 years of experience working in the fashion industry in both Europe and North America.
I’ve designed everything from plus-sized fashion to lingerie and shoes. I studied fashion design and pattern making in France after completing my communications degree to “fall back on” in Canada.
Why She Created Her Site
I started ShoeTease in 2010 after experiencing burnout from my job as a shoe designer and the fashion industry in general.
I loved the trend forecasting and the 2D design process in particular, so I decided to keep doing the parts I enjoyed and sell unique t-shirts featuring shoe graphics.
That's how I came up with the name Shoe "Tease," a play on words to keep my options open in case I stopped making my "tees."
I started blogging after picking up Pro Blogger's book, which encouraged me to start a blog to push my product.
I initially shared my t-shirts and shoe trends and showcased shoe brands and personal style in a cheeky way, putting out 5 to 7 posts per week. They say to blog about what you know, so I did just that.
When the blog started taking off more than the t-shirts, I ran with it, pushing more shoe-related content on the blog, including shoe care and styling.
In 2014, I hired an SEO consultant to teach me all about SEO, which led me on a path to learn everything I could about on-page SEO. A few years later I began my venture offering SEO services to fellow bloggers and small businesses, until 2021.
In 2016, I ventured into developing a line of pom-pom shoe clips called Pombons. The idea was to distribute them wholesale.
Unfortunately, my expansion plans hit a snag when my middleman arrangement fell through. I found that selling a physical product directly to customers alone was too time-consuming for the financial return, so I abandoned the project.
The blog itself has grown from an initial 400 monthly pageviews and sharing shoe trends and personal style in a cheeky way to nearly 500,000 monthly pageviews at its peak, before being impacted by the HCU update.
My content currently covers a range of shoe-related topics such as shoe styling and shoe care. I am expanding into the capsule wardrobe and general personal styling space.
I want to offer women a comprehensive platform where they can find advice for everything related to shoes and fashion styling both on the blog and via social media (which I abandoned in 2017) and video content.
I abandoned both my YouTube and Instagram accounts, but I do plan on resurrecting both of those and adding to YouTube Shorts and TikTok later this year with shoe reviews and educational styling content.
Last summer, I began selling curated capsule wardrobes on the ShoeTeaseShop on Etsy and plan to offer courses and one-on-one styling services shortly. I actually have 10 of these up in my Etsy shop now.
How Much She’s Earning
In the 12 months preceding the HCU update, I made anywhere between $6k and $24k, where my income averaged $14,450/month in Mediavine ads alone.
I brought in about $2500 per month via multiple affiliates in that timeframe. My digital products in my Etsy store bring in just under $250 per month, and I’m hoping to double that number by summer.
Although I started my blog in 2010, it didn’t become my full focus until 2020 and it didn’t start making lots of money until 2019, when I joined Mediavine.
My income peaked in the last quarter of 2023, with a November 2023 income of $24,088.43 in ads alone.
In the 12 months preceding the HCU update, my average pageviews were 436,380/month. I lost a large percentage of that traffic from the HCU and got hit down again at the end of December.
It's also worth noting that, in 2023, I only wrote 4 brand new blog posts and updated 3 older posts.
Her Main Marketing Strategy
I can’t say my marketing strategy was particularly unique.
SEO was my main marketing strategy up until last September and made up the bulk of my traffic. However, I did do a good enough job of it that over 85% of close to half a million visitors were organically driven by the SERPs, without social media or a newsletter.
Not unique, but possibly surprising? Not many independent niche sites are able to get that much traffic to one site from Google alone.
Pushing my content through Pinterest was my secondary marketing strategy and is now my top traffic source. I’m currently looking again to social media to help share my blog’s content, including my guides and services. It’s a work in progress at the moment.
As for how much time I work on my business, I actually don’t know!
Some weeks I work more, some less. Today I worked 3.5 hours, which is less than a typical day, so maybe around 20 hours per week? I’m clearly in need of a time audit!
The Importance of SEO
SEO is the only reason my blog gained the views and money it has, so I say it’s very important!
On-page SEO was my main strategy, but now I’ve pivoted from a strictly SEO/keyword approach to creating content with more of an organic flow to it.
That is, walking women on a specific fashion journey using my articles as a guide, rather than a collection of articles that one might find from a quick Google or Pinterest search. For instance, I’ll begin helping women find their true style identity. From there, I’ll guide them from basic to more complex outfit combinations and ideas.
I still plan to use Semrush to see what keywords to include in my content, which is the bulk of my SEO strategy. I’m not letting go of that!
My strongest approach has been to see what articles bring me the most traffic and use those to create topical clusters around them. I expand and exhaust every topical cluster to get a strong authoritative grip on the subject.
For example, if I’m ranking for “how to clean leather shoes,” I will brainstorm using Semrush to find similar keywords with a different search intent such as “how to clean suede shoes,” “how to clean satin shoes,” and so on.
Once I’ve written the posts, I strategically interlink between each one using various keyword synonyms as anchor text. I work on publishing multiple clusters at a time so I don’t overwhelm the site with similar back-to-back articles.
I use Semrush and Google itself to track my own data and those of competing websites to see if I’m missing anything, and for any new ideas.
After the HCU update, I’m changing things up. Clearly, my content was far too keyword-driven, but I believe my more organic approach will be most beneficial to my users and to grow my presence outside of Google.
Because my site has been around since 2010ish, I was lucky enough to ignore link building, as links generally came by publishing interesting content. I’ve had a “build it and they will come” mentality and prefer to focus on areas I can control.
That said, in the last couple of years, strong backlinks are becoming few and far between. So I’m now looking to create more ‘‘shareable’ content to increase the likelihood of gaining links back to my site.
Shareable content would look like fashion quizzes, trending style guides, and checklists, including daily and seasonal outfit inspiration.
Maybe later this year, I’ll begin outsourcing a backlink strategy!
Cristina’s Content Creation Process
I recently began removing older posts on my site, written in the pre-microblogging era that don’t hold much value.
I currently have 770 posts left, but I’m sure another 250 can go! So let’s say I have about 500 decent posts up.
My content creation process starts by selecting one primary keyword from my list that I created with the help of Semrush, then confirming reader intent and creating a content brief (for myself or a writer) with the necessary headings.
I then outline the visuals I’ll need to explain my article. If needed, I’ll book a photography session with my photographer (shoutout to Bruna Rico Photography!) who then edits the photos.
For posts that don’t require photos, I create collages from images pulled from my affiliate retailers and/or stock photos. My VA edits them in Canva and uploads them into the site’s WP media folder.
I then create my copy, making sure to include the right amount of keywords and keyword synonyms. I also answer any relevant questions that feel relevant to cover.
When needed, I use AI tools such as ChatGPT 4 to help me rephrase and clarify sections of my posts for my blog. I tend to be wordy when I write, so I find AI to be really helpful!
Once I’ve completed my draft, I edit it with Grammarly, then copy and paste it into a WordPress draft. That’s where I re-read it, format it, add images and affiliate links, and interlink with other posts.
I then create pins, adding them to the bottom of my post for my VA to schedule on Pinterest.
Her Email List
I have an email list of about 2,000 subscribers that I began collecting via Mediavine’s Spotlight Subscribe tool 2 years ago.
Previously, Mailchimp decided to shut down my account and I lost all my subscribers without warning. My fault for not saving my subscriber list, but it definitely put a damper on my drive to pursue email collection and marketing as a traffic strategy.
I am in the midst of finally setting up and implementing an email marketing strategy and I plan to grow it via various freebies, Pinterest, and social channels such as my private Facebook group.
Her Favorite Resources
I started my journey with the Pro Blogging books and blog, so I will always mention them!
More recently, my top resources have been Mediavine—their Facebook group, blog posts and videos, updating us on everything going on in the industry.
Their private Facebook group has been pivotal to my success, thanks to the generous members who impart so much knowledge freely.
It didn’t just help with increasing my knowledge base but has had a huge impact on my mindset, where I freed myself from limiting beliefs on money and success.
Other Facebook groups that have been helpful include Women in Tech SEO and Sisters in SEO.
And not to be cheeky, but Niche Pursuits has been my most coveted resource for the last 6 months, particularly post HCU.
Cristina’s Go-To Tools
Her Main Challenge
My biggest challenge has been organizing, outsourcing, and scaling my business, especially as a mom with ADHD.
I’m prone to distractions and/or hyper-focusing on small tasks that aren’t a priority and/or that my VA can easily do. I’m working with an ADHD coach to help manage and organize my time more effectively.
Outsourcing has been a huge challenge for me.
Not only does it take time away from content creation itself, but it’s been extremely difficult to find competent help, even from those who are supposedly experts in their field.
Not to mention that finding strong digital writers who can give up-to-date styling advice is rare.
Last year I did find a great VA, but I’m still on the hunt for more specialized help.
Her Greatest Accomplishment
Making multiple 6 figures from an unexpected business model would definitely be my main accomplishment. I was routinely ridiculed for choosing blogging as an entrepreneurial route, even by other bloggers, back in the day!
I believe someone said that only 5% of bloggers make money and I’m thrilled to be a part of that group.
What’s more, almost all of my income has been blog-driven, without the use of email marketing or social media. This is odd for an independent creator in the fashion niche, who usually relies upon influencer sponsorships and collaborations via social media.
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
I wish I had known how important email marketing was and still is. For some reason, email marketing always felt overwhelming and out of reach.
As search and social media are ever-changing and algorithms can unexpectedly hit you where it hurts, email marketing is the way to go.
So here I am, working on it 13 years later. But better late than never!
Her Biggest Mistake
I feel like I’ve made so many mistakes that it’s hard to just pick one.
I regret not leaving the influencer world sooner to focus on my blog.
As a fashion blogger and micro-influencer at the time, Instagram seemed absolutely necessary and I had a hard time letting go. I could have made 10x the money had I left sooner.
I detached from it in 2019 and that’s when everything started looking up.
Another mistake was not joining Mediavine sooner. I was eligible 4 years prior to joining, but didn’t know that such ad companies even existed!
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Dive in, try different approaches, and take up space.
Network digitally and in-person to learn from others. Had I done this more at the beginning, I would have found out about Mediavine and other income opportunities much earlier.
Don’t spend too much time in the research phase. Be imperfect. Everything can be spruced up later! Diversify your income streams. Focus on what you’re good at, and outsource the rest.
And most importantly: believe in your vision while surrounding yourself with people who believe in it too and share similar aspirations. Mindset is everything!
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